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Huntsville UFC fighter proving martial arts teaches more than just how to fight

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Kyle Nelson recently re-signed with the UFC but in between training for his next fight the Huntsville native, and his business partner Michael Fox, operate Muskoka Martial Arts in Gravenhurst.

The pair took over the business in December 2021 from Dan Thomas. Nelson says they took over after the former owner reached out to them amid rising costs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. “He wanted to keep the gym going, the kids, the parents, and all the members wanted to keep the gym going so they reached out to me just to kind of look for an answer as far as keeping the gym alive.”

“We’re trying to cover all the bases as far as martial arts,” Nelson says, adding he and Fox want to install “good martial arts values” in kids and help keep adults fit.

He explains that self-discipline is the most important value they teach, adding everyone has to hold themselves accountable for their physical fitness and mental fitness. “Mental fitness is a big part of martial arts,” Nelson says. Students, mostly the younger ones, are taught about honour and respect, as well. “I think nowadays there aren’t as many avenues for children to get that kind of teaching so I try and do my best through the gym to do that,” Nelson says.

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It’s Nelson’s belief that getting more kids into martial arts would do more than just help get them fit. “We can give the kids a healthy and active outlet for their energy,” he says. Getting the younger generation into mixed martial arts, Nelson says, would allow them to work off any stress they’re holding onto from school or just life in general. “It’s also about learning how to control yourself, how to be confident in yourself,” he adds.

Nelson teaches on Fridays and Saturdays. His schedule ranges from Jujutsu for kids on Friday morning to women’s self-defence classes on Saturday. There is also an “open mat” session every Saturday where any member can come in and work on whatever techniques they want and get pointers from Nelson.

Nelson says his love for mixed martial arts partly stems from his desire to give youth an opportunity. Once the academy gets more established, he wants to create a sponsorship opportunity for youth who may not have the money to travel and compete or just train. “Being from Muskoka, it’s not easy to travel to compete,” he says, adding there were times when he was younger when he wished he lived in Toronto to be closer to the tournaments. 

“I don’t want Muskoka to be a detriment to them,” he says.

Just like his parents did for him, he knows the moms and dads in the area do whatever they can to help their kids succeed, but there’s only so much they can do. “If I can make it easier for the kids, I would love to,” Nelson says.

Nelson recommends anyone interested in becoming a member, or trying the gym out on a trial run, to reach out to them through Facebook.

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